Ciao Nathalie! If we were having this aperitivo chat in person, what would you be sipping on? Ciao Kelly! Is it wine o’clock? In that case I would probably be sipping on my traditional glass of wine. I’m usually a lover of Prosecco but my go-to favorite at the moment is Expedition, a white wine (Torrontés & Chardonnay) from Argentina. It goes perfectly with everything from a fancy girls’ night out to watching an Italian football match in your cozy pajamas at home.
Tell us about your love for Italy! What in particular sparked your love for Bella Italia? Long story short – it started as a musical influence back when I was a teenager. I have always loved artists like Dean Martin, his English-Italian songs are like beautiful bilingual love stories. It’s also the reason why I’m such a hopeless romantic and bilingual writer today.
I studied Spanish in school and it’s a lovely language as well, but Italian had me at ciao and sparked the beginning of our love story. Nowadays it is a natural part of me in a way that I never could have imagined. Inevitably and unexpected. I think women in particular can relate to the touch of romance and sweetness that Italy holds. Maybe la bella Italia is more of a state of mind than just a country? Just like La dolce vita or the French “La vie en rose” it speaks for itself. I would actually dare to say that you either feel it or not at all.
You’re from Sweden, a country I haven’t visited (yet)! What would you say are the major differences in lifestyle & food between Sweden and Italy? I would say that Swedes are far more focused on their careers rather than their families for example. While Italians are still very family oriented, which I love because it aligns so beautifully with my personal values. Not to throw shade at my own country but I wish we would be less reserved and value the beauty of togetherness more. Our lifestyle in general is influenced by the entire world nowadays. I always tell people abroad to visit the smaller cities if you want to experience a more traditional side of Sweden.
As for the food we have our traditional husmanskost that origins from our farmer society. A classic dish is Swedish meatballs and potatoes that you can find at your local Ikea restaurant. We take breakfast seriously and always have time for fika. But apart from that, you can be Italian and find all kinds of Italy-produced food and groceries here. My hometown has an Italian/Swedish restaurant owned by a couple from Rome and I absolutely love the idea of having authentic tiramisù, pasta carbonara or a fresh gelato within reach. The fact that we live in a time when different food cultures integrates with each other is a perfect way to make the world both bigger and smaller at the same time.
Local restaurant serving Swedish husmanskost combined with Italian cuisine.
You’re also a writer – how does Italy inspire your writing? Could you share one of your poems about Italy with us? I feel like I’m always writing on something or thinking of what to write next, even when I’m supposed to have a day off from it. I have always been very passionate about the power of the written word and Italy has definitely been a significant source of inspiration in many parts of my writing. Mainly for my bilingual poems that first started as a way to explore the English and Italian language and how well they play together, which later also evolved into a collaboration tag (#italylovenotes) alongside with Jasmine from Questa Dolce Vita. Italian has a strong emotional impact on me, and when you combine Italian with English something just happens. I love the romantic and almost dramatic vibe it brings to even the most simplest of content.
I love that you’re learning Italian as well! What are some of your favorite creative ways to learn Italian? I love listening to Italian music (both new and old) and always try to translate lyrics to English. My bilingual poetry has also been a fun creative way to learn Italian. I haven’t been able to dedicate a lot of my time to studying lately, but when it comes to studying in the traditional way I use the Duolingo app and go old school and write down a lot on paper combined with support from Italian friends. Speaking of differences between Sweden and Italy – I must say that Italians are far more passionate about helping you learn. And what’s better than passion while learning a new language?
There are also some great Italian tv-series out there. They recently made an Italian remake of the popular Norwegian drama series Skam. If you are a Italian football supporter like me you watch a lot of hysterical yet charming football interviews and commentators who lose it at every scored goal. But I have to admit that you do pick up a lot of expressions without even noticing.
Do you have a favorite region of Italy and favorite Italian food and/or wine? First of all: does dessert count as food? If so, tiramisù is without a doubt my favorite. But something as simple as a home cooked pasta bolognese with parmigiano reggiano and fresh basilico is honestly hard to resist.
There are so many good Italian wines, but as I said earlier I’m a Prosecco lover and my choice would be Freixenet Prosecco D.O.C from Veneto. Plus the bottle is a beauty!
Even though I haven’t visited this region yet, I have to say Puglia on this one. It speaks to me in so many ways. There is just something special about the mix of the sea, beach and bright vintage architecture that makes me want to wander around its alleys for hours with the Amore of my life by my side and the sunset as our backdrop. Ending the days with short walks by the sea is truly la dolce vita for me. In all honesty, Puglia somehow feels like the missing piece of my life. Bittersweet isn’t it?
I am Scandinavian and therefore supposed to naturally endure the cold winters of the North, but I’m hands down the complete opposite. I’m really just a southern sea-and-summer type of girl who was placed on the wrong side of Europe. And I seriously need to do something about this misplacement in the near future…
Where else can we connect with you?
With love, Nathalie Salomonsson